Page images

audience about until he has swept the deck clean. Yet we love that Porpoise, in spite of everything. He is so happy and harmless and gentle. It is only because he is on a ship that he is a bore.

Also, we love the “Mill.” The Mill is a womana good woman-one of the kindliest souls on earth, I suspect, and her mouth is her warrant for her name. It goes all the time, but it does not deal with important things. Indeed, nothing is too unimportant for her hopper, and she grinds exceeding small. Just now, for an hour or so, she has been explaining that she did not sleep very well last night, and minutely cataloguing the reasons why. She will keep it up for another hour, and then if somebody hasn't dropped her overboard she will dig up something else of equal value and go right on, refreshed and rejoicing in the consciousness of well-doing.

The Mill would not act this way at home—she would not have time. It is only because she is on a ship where everybody is idle and irresponsible and “different,” and likely to be peculiar. As Laura, age fourteen, said to me to-day-paraphrasing the words of the old Quaker spinster to her sister, “I think everybody on this ship is peculiar except thee and me, and sometimes I think thee is a little peculiar." That expresses the situation, and on the whole we enjoy it. We are like the little boy whose reputation for being a strange child did not interfere with his happiness. “Gee, ain't it great to be crazy!” was his favorite remark, and whatever we may be on this ship, we are content with the conditions, and would not change them, even if we could.



| HAVE seen the shores of Africa and Spain! The 1 bath steward came very early, this morning, earlier than usual. He had his reasons, but I had forgotten and was sleepy, so I said “No," and tried to doze again. Then all at once from the deck there arose a swell of music-rich, triumphant musican orchestration of “Holy, Holy, Holy"—such a strain as one might expect to hear if the eternal gates should swing ajar. I remembered, then; it was Sunday morning -- but there was something more. Land! The land that lies on the other side of the ocean!

In a moment I was at my port-hole, which is on the starboard side. We had changed our course and were bearing more to the north. Directly in front of me the sun was rising. The east was a mass of glowing outlines-golden clouds and hilltops mingled. It was the Orient-that is what it was—the Far East; the sun rising over Africa! Something got hold of me then-I hardly know what. Certainly I was not unhappy; but then it was all so sudden and spectacular, and I had waited for it so long.

I do not remember how I got dressed; only for a moment at a time could I drag myself away from that port-hole. The sun rose higher—the outlines of Morocco became more distinct, but they did not lose their wonder of color—their glory of purple and gold. I realized now that the prospectuses had not exaggerated the splendor of the East, even on their gorgeous covers —that they could not do so if they tried. By the time I was on deck we were running close enough to the lofty shores to make out villages here and there and hilltop towers—the habitation and the watchtowers of the Moors. How eagerly and minutely one scanned these with the glass to distinguish the first sign of Oriental life—to get a glimpse of the reality of what had so long been but a romance and a dream. It was those people who had conquered Spain and built the Alhambra.

What was going on inside those curious flattopped houses and those towers ? Marvellous matters, no doubt, that had to do with nargileh and magic and scimiters and flying carpets and scarcely imperceptible nods to the executioner who always hovered among the draperies in the background. The Reprobates appeared and declared there was no romance anywhere in sight and never had been in that direction; that Morocco was just a place of wretched government and miserable people whose chief industries were laziness and crime. There are moments when I would be willing for this ship to sink to properly punish the Reprobates.

The Diplomat was better. He said there was as much romance and magic over there as ever, and more executioners; and the Diplomat knows. We would pass Ceuta, the African Pillar of Hercules, before long, he told us. The other pillar was the Rock of Gibraltar, which lay still farther ahead.

[ocr errors]

We went over to the other side of the ship presently, for we were overlooking the Bay of Trafalgar, where a little more than a hundred years ago Horatio Nelson died, after convincing the combined navies of France and Spain that it required something besides numbers to win a victory. Nelson went into that fight with thirty-two vessels, little and big, against forty of the combined fleets. He hoisted the signal, “England expects every man to do his duty,” and every man did it. One half of the combined fleets struck their colors, and the rest made off, or sank, and with them went Napoleon Bonaparte's scheme for invading England.

We looked out on the placid water, laughing in the Sunday morning sunlight, and tried to imagine those vanished fleets-stately ships of the line with their banks of guns; smart frigates and rakish cutters -all that splendid concourse of black hull and towering canvas, and then the boom and the flash of gunsthe conflict and the glory of that morning so long ago. This much was real, and it was romance; not even the Reprobates could brush away the bloom.

The captain came by and pointed ahead to Tarifa, where the Barbary pirates a long time ago levied tribute on the merchants and added the word “tariff” to the dictionary. Their old castle has fallen into ruin, but the old industry still thrives, under the same name. Then we went back to starboard again for a look at Tangier, where, alas, we were not to land, because Algiers had been provided for us instead.

But now Gibraltar, the crouching lion of Trafalgar, had risen from the sea. The English call it “The Rock," and that is just what it looks like a big bowlder shaped like a sleeping lion-its head toward Spain, its tail toward Africa. I think most persons have an idea that the Rock lies lengthwise, east and




west-I know I thought so. Instead it lies north and south, and is really a stone finger pointed by Spain toward the African coast. It is Great Britain's pride

—it has cost enough for her to be proud of it—and is her chief stronghold.

About it are gathered her warships of to-daydark, low-browed fighters like our own—any one of them able to send to the bottom a whole fleet like Nelson's and the combined fleets besides. They look quiet enough, ugly enough, and drowsy enough, now.

« PreviousContinue »